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Morning 9: Rory talks truth | Rose’s big announcement | PXG Gen2 launch

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 2, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, and a belated Happy New Year…should be a good one for golf!
1. “More money, more ranking points”
Rory McIlroy, only once a winner on the PGA Tour in the past two years, enters the 2019 season looking to make some changes. While he walked back suggestions he’s cutting back his European Tour schedule, the Ulsterman seemed to…walk them forward ahead of the Tournament of Champions.
Per Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski, McIlroy said.
  • “You go to Europe and get paid a nice amount of money to start the year…I want to switch it up. I’ve done it for 11 years so I may as well do something a little different.”
  • “It’s so one-sided,…Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it’s all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”
  • “I want to play against the best players in the world. I get a buzz from that. I’d much rather go down the stretch against Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson. I’m not putting anyone down in Europe, but the depths of fields and everything is just that bit better over here. It’s what everyone is striving for. It’s why [Italy’s] Francesco Molinari is here this week. It’s where it’s heading.
  • “The ultimate goal is here,” McIlroy added. “The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the truth. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the way it is. It’s tough. I still want to support the European Tour, and I talk about this loyalty thing with Europe. … [But] it’s not as though I’m just starting out and jumping ship. I’ve done my time. I’ve done everything I feel like I need to do to say OK, I’m going to make my own decisions and do what I want.”
2. New from PXG
Kicking off equipment launches for 2019, PXG announced the second generation of its 0811 drivers, woods, and hybrids.
The selling point: Hot Rod Technology in the clubs’ crowns.
  • In true Bob Parsons fashion, the second generation driver offering from Scottsdale-based PXG draws inspiration from something very fast, very custom, and VERY USA: the American hot rod. 2019 will mark the year that PXG truly has a driver offering that lives up to the performance of its irons. That’s right, PXG is a legitimate driver company now with a product that will hold its own.
  • The 0811 X and XF Gen2’s carbon fiber crown has the aggressive hood styling of a 500 horsepower Shelby Mustang. The sleek new multi-level crown not only packs a new-and-improved aerodynamic design but also provides structural support to the face where it’s most needed, according to the company. The resulting reduction in energy loss translates to a distance boost with enhanced control, as well as reduced drag.
  • The Hot Rod Technology-laden crown also acts as an alignment aid and reduces glare, says PXG, and it dampens vibration for what the company describes as “a pleasant and unique feel and sound, reminiscent of a persimmon driver head.”
3. In-round interviews?
It worked well in Europe…
Doug Ferguson writes…“Such interviews are not likely to occur in the final round, and PGA Tour officials are sensitive to the timing of the interviews. A quick spot with Dustin Johnson after his 432-yard drive came within 6 inches of the cup last year at Kapalua might be ideal. Right after a three-putt bogey from 10 feet might not be.”
  • “Marc Leishman has experience doing on-course interviews when he plays in Australia, and he didn’t mind the concept.”
  • ”If they do end up having them, my advice would be to have someone who has played on Tour to do it, to be a little sensitive of the questions and the timing of the interview,” Leishman said. ”But anything where you can be more accessible to the viewers is a good thing. We want to bring more people to the game. It might be a way to give more insight to what we’re thinking at the time.'”
  • “Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, isn’t likely to be among the candidates…”I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. ”And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”
4. Rose to Honma
While the news broke yesterday, the Morning 9 was enjoying its pork and sauerkraut, so we’re presenting it here today. In a significant coup for the Japanese luxury equipment company, Justin Rose has signed a multi-year deal with Honma.
  • One of the worst-kept secrets in the golf equipment world is no longer secret: world No. 2 Justin Rose is officially a Honma staffer.
  • The Japanese premium equipment company announced the signing in a press release today.
  • “I’m extremely excited to be joining Honma,” said Rose, in the press release. “Coming off one of my best years professionally, I wanted to make it a point to get better. I believe Honma equipment and the legendary Honma craftsmanship can help make me better.”
  • Rose had previously played a full TaylorMade bag for the past 20 years.
  • Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King joined Honma as a strategic advisor late in 2018. Many expected he’d be tasked with helping the brand make a larger splash in the European and American markets, the financial resources of new company owner, Chinese billionaire Liu Jianguo, behind him.
  • Honma has never had a male player ranked inside the top 150 under contract. On the women’s side, however, top players So Yeon Ryu and Shan-Shan Feng play the company’s wares.
5. Not if, but how many(?)
A bold prognostication! Adam Woodward at USA Today sees multiple majors in El Tigre’s future.
  • “But this is golf, a sport that continually proves the old adage that age is just, in fact, a number….Thirty six players have won majors at 40 or older, including: Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Vijay Singh, Gary Player, Darren Clarke, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.”
  • “Despite his advancing age, Woods will have a great shot at winning his 15th major title this season. Seven of his 80 PGA Tour wins – six of his 14 major titles – came at courses hosting a major this year.”
  • “Barring major injury or a total collapse, Woods may also have a legitimate chance to break Boros’ record. Woods, whose last major title was at the 2008 U.S. Open, finished runner-up at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. He’ll be 49 when the event returns to Oakmont in 2025. Woods also could tie the record at the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the course where he also finished runner-up in 2005.”
6. Further bold predictions!
These from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…
  • “A player(s) will violate the new rules on green-reading materials. Like nearly all rule violations on the PGA Tour these will be unintentional violations. And considering how the new regulation is written, a breach is inevitable. Consider that the scale and size of green-reading materials are now regulated, but also a player is allowed to use a book that would be in violation of the policy from the tee or fairway, just not the green. An inadvertent miscue is inevitable.”
  • “Tour golf will become a popular (and creative) platform for sports betting. With the introduction of federal gaming guidelines, expect to see a bump in interest in the Tour as gamblers begin to realize how much potential action is available during a round. As one Tour official recently explained, other sports feature a single ball and a single bat at any given moment. In golf there are potentially 78 balls and bats in motion at one time.”
  • “Cameron Champ will shatter last year’s long-drive record. And it will probably happen this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The rookie has already proven himself to be a singular talent who is capable of much more than prodigious drives, but last season’s mark of 433 yards set by Michael Block at the U.S. Open seems well within reach for Champ. “Because of his speed he can hit these shots that really aren’t efficient in flight that carry 300 yards,” said Champ’s swing coach Sean Foley.”
7. Bryson is ready
Dave Shedloski writes of Bryson’s conviction that he’ll leave the flag in on all putts at Kapalua…”His final order of business was on the practice putting green, where he was further testing the viability of leaving the flagstick in for even the shortest putts. Significant changes to the Rules of Golf take effect today, including the rule that previously made it a penalty when a ball played from the green struck the flagstick. No more.”
  • “After the testing we’ve seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I’m going to leave it in. I’m going to do it until I can see that it messes me up,” the erudite youngster averred. “For the most part, we’ve seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That’s from anywhere.”
  • “So, just to throw out a number, he would leave it in for a three-footer?…”Heck, potentially a one-footer. From anywhere,” he clarifies. “How many times do you just walk up to your ball and you knock it against the pin and it goes in? You’re at your local club just out there beating it around. Boink, dink, it goes in. Every time. Right?”
8. Na to play Callaway Clubs
Golfweek’s David Dusek…”Kevin Na, who won last season’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, is in Hawaii preparing for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. On New Years Eve, a few hours before the clock struck 12 on the East Coast, he took to Instagram and made a major equipment announcement.”
“Although it is tough to tell from the photo, it appears Na already switched to Callaway’s Apex Pro irons, and there were several photos of him playing last season with a Callaway Epic driver, including at the Tour Championship at East Lake.”
He’ll continue to play Titleist’s ProV1x ball.
9. Rose’s new weapons
Mentioned earlier, Justin Rose will be playing 10 Honma clubs in 2019. He posted this shot of his “Rose Proto” T//World irons to Instagram. A fine instrument!
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Mizuno MP-20 SEL: Leftys rejoice!

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Hey you southpaws, I promise I didn’t just flip an image of an MP-20 to wind you up… This is a real deal!

Say hello to the Mizuno MP-20 SEL (Special Edition Lefty) made just for you.

So what makes these SEL’s special? You may remember from the MP-20 piece I referenced the “MP-20 family” and how Mizuno spent a lot of time analyzing set makeup data to fine-tune each club in each model to maximize performance from both an individual set perspective, and to combo. They took all of that data and flipped it on its head, or at least hand, to create a set combining the most requested clubs just for left-handed players.

The MP20 SEL is a combination of 5-PW MP20 (blades) with HMB 3, and 4-irons. All the flow, copper and tech from the right-handed models combined into one. Without getting too far into the logistic of this, it has to be said that unless you’re a maple-syrup drinking, hockey-playing Canuck (don’t worry its not an offensive term) where around 25 percent of golfers play left-handed the global golf population that plays left-handed is still below 10 percent.  Mizuno wants to do everything they can to offer an MP design for lefties, and as the data demonstrated, this was the best option to fit the most players.

For more information on the entire MP20 line up check out the full piece here: ( INSERT MP20 LINK ) 

 

 

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Morning 9: Nothing runs like a Frittelli | Royal Portrush takes center stage

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

July 15, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1 Scottish Open: Wiesberger nabs second W of 2019
(Image above via Wiesberger on Instagram) EuropeanTour.com report…”Bernd Wiesberger…beat Benjamin Hebert in a twilight play-off at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.”
  • “The Austrian entered the final day at The Renaissance Club with a two shot lead but found himself trailing after Hebert carded a stunning closing 62 to set the target at 22 under.”
  • “Wiesberger had edged back ahead with two to play but bogeyed the 17th in a 69 before a par on the third play-off hole handed him a sixth European Tour title.”
2. Nothing runs like a Frittelli 
AP report…”While the rest of the leaders faltered, Dylan Frittelli surged to his first PGA Tour title.”
  • “Frittelli won the John Deere Classic on Sunday, closing with a 7-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over Russell Henley. The South African earned a spot next week in the British Open, finishing at 21-under 263 after the bogey-free final round at TPC Deere Run.”
  • “One of eight players within two strokes of the lead entering the lead, Frittelli was looking forward to the tournament’s charter flight to Royal Portrush.”
  • “I’m sure it’s going to be a fun flight,” Frittelli said.

Indeed. Full piece.

3. Goose is loose at Senior Players 
AP report on Goosen’s win at one of the low-key best venues for watching professional golf…”Retief Goosen birdied the final two holes to win the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on Sunday at Firestone Country Club for his first PGA Tour Champions title.”
  • “The 50-year-old Hall of Famer from South Africa broke a tie for the lead with a 15-foot putt on the par-4 17th and made a 10-footer on the par-4 18th for a 2-under 68 and a two-stroke victory over 65-year-old Jay Haas and Tim Petrovic.”
4. Kim outduels Thompson 
AP report…”I’m very happy to win, especially this tournament, because Marathon has a lot of history,” Kim said.
  • “With five birdies in the middle of her round, Kim pulled away from Lexi Thompson in their head-to-head duel at Highland Meadows Golf Club outside Toledo, Ohio.”
  • “She played some amazing golf,” Thompson said. “There was a stretch there, mid-round, where she stuck every shot.
  • “Had under 5 feet [for birdie] about four times in a row. So, it was a very well-deserved win by her.”
5. If only Tony Romo played playoff football as well as he does the American Century Championship…
(Kidding, Cowboys fans)
Golf Channel’s Adam Woodard…”Tony Romo is the man to beat in Lake Tahoe.”
  • “The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst has staked his claim as best celebrity golfer by defending his title at the 2019 American Century Championship, winning with a score of 71 points. Former MLB All-Star Mark Mulder (61) finished second, followed by tennis Olympic medalist Mardy Fish and another former MLB All-Star Derek Lowe (57). Actor Jack Wagner rounds out the top five with 55 points.”
6. *Points to Collin Morikawa* You get a tour card!
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”A week after Matthew Wolff earned his PGA Tour card by winning the 3M Open, Collin Morikawa locked up membership for next season.”
“The 22-year-old Cal product, in just his fifth pro start, tied for fourth Sunday at the John Deere Classic to collect 122.5 non-member FedExCup points and run his season total to 456.5. With just three weeks left in the regular season, that number, which currently would slot Morikawa at 88th, will assuredly be more than No. 125 in the final standings, meaning Morikawa can count on earning his card for the 2019-20 season.”
7. Portrush to center stage
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Much has changed since The Open last visited the coastal links of Royal Portrush. It’s been 68 years, in fact, since Max Faulkner scooped 300 pounds for winning the tournament despite never breaking 70. But that remains the only time the oldest major in golf was held somewhere other than England or Scotland.”
  • “That is, until this week. Long viewed as one of the best courses in the world, Royal Portrush now has a chance to shine in front of a global audience like never before.”
  • “And chances are, she’s going to put on quite a show.”
8. In a similar vein… 
James Corrigan at The Telegraph files his look ahead…
  • “Yet things change, as do politics, finance, perception and even dusty old men in blazers, and here we are in Open week. Everywhere you walked in Portrush on Saturday, with a big wheel spinning and looking down on families eating ice creams, and the brave dipping their toes in the grey ocean, it was clear that this was not a normal weekend. For, as the doors swing open, Tiger Woods is turning up on the Sunday morning and, no, that is not an everyday occurrence.”
  • “Perhaps Graeme McDowell summed it up best in a spectacular blog post on the European Tour website. “It’s been amazing to see the Open Championship evolve in the sleepy little town where I was born,” he said. “For anyone who has never been there, Portrush is on the very northern tip of the island of Ireland and is a very raw, beautiful, rugged landscape which feels very remote. To see an Open being staged there is mind-blowing for many of the local people.”
9. Fun yields win for Frittelli  
Good bit from Cameron Morfit going a level beyond the game story for PGATour.com…”It was mentality clarity,” Frittelli said, when asked to explain the difference at the Deere.
  • “With his attention divided and his career flagging, the 29-year-old with the prescription glasses found himself feeling stressed as this season wore on. His European Tour membership was running out, and he found himself in danger of losing his PGA TOUR card, too. That would mean going back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where nothing is guaranteed except for the fact that it would preclude his playing in some big overseas events.”
  • “The clock was ticking, and Frittelli had to find a way to tune it out. Enter sports psychologist Jay Brunza, who helped Frittelli finally accept that he couldn’t affect outcomes, at least not positively, by obsessing over them. When he three-putted the 14th hole after driving the green Sunday, he not only forced himself to slow down and not overreact, he smiled.”
  • “I think I was the only one on the course who smiled after a three-putt,” he said.
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Tour Rundown runs toward Open with Frittelli, Kim, Goosen victories

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Something quite brilliant was in the air this week on the world’s golf tours. A new course debuted in Scotland, South Africa stood tall with two champions, and the world anticipated a return to a legendary, northern course that has not seen an Open Championship since 1951. The American tours are drawing to a close, and plans for 2019-2020 are firming up. Five events caught our attention this week, from Gullane to Toledo, from Iowa to Colorado. Plug in your charger and settle in for a nice read of this week’s Tour Rundown.

Scottish Open chalice rests in Wiesberger’s hands

Interesting stories envelope the Austrian golfer, Bernd Wiesberger. After a many-month layoff to rehab a wrist injury this season, 2 victories have come his way, including last week’s Scottish Open. The first 3 playoffs of his European Tour career all ended in defeat. In 2011, 2014 and 2015, he lost in extra holes at the Johnnie Walker, the Lyoness, and the Irish Open. Since then, he’s 2-0 in extra time. During the days leading into the 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cups, the 6-time Euro champ always seemed on the edge of breaking through to the European squad, but tailed off in the stretch run. On Sunday, under great pressure, he broke through for his finest triumph to date.

Soft ground and zero wind made The Renaissance Club an easy target during its championship debut. Wiesberger took advantage in round two, posting a course-record 61 to seize the lead. He held the top spot after 54 holes, placing all pressure squarely on his shoulders as round 4 began. It didn’t help that England’s Andrew Johnston had signed for a 62 before the Austrian pegged his opening tee shot. It also didn’t help that Benjamin Hebert of France was in the midst of his own 62, climbing the leaderboard. Ultimately, the duo of Wiesberger and Hebert would trade counters through the closing holes. After the Austrian holed a gutty, 7-feet effort at the last for a spot in the playoff, Hebert’s sound game betrayed him. He bogeyed the 2nd playoff hole, when par would have won, then 3-putted the 3rd go-round to finish 2nd.

As consolation, Hebert, Johnston and Italy’s Nino Bertasio earned the final 3 spots in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

@ScottishOpen     @EuropeanTour     @Renaissancegc     @BWiesberger

John Deere Classic is Frittelli’s 1st PGA Tour victory

The 3rd weekend of July redefined the careers of its tournament winners. Dylan Frtitelli has long been a quality golfer, since before his days at the University of Texas. Frittelli found himself uncertain of his status for the 2019-2020 campaign. His major-tour memberships were at risk, and a return to the triple-A tours was not his number-one comfort blanket. Everything changed on Sunday, in the middle of the American continent, when Frittelli surged past 3rd-round leader Andrew Landry with 64. As Landry fell to 3rd spot, Frittelli reached 21-under par. His work wasn’t finished, however. After a 4-under opening nine in round 4, the kind that gets you into the top 10, Russell Henley continued to make birdies. He made 6 more coming home, including a marvelous one at the final hole. Henley reached 19-under, claiming 2nd spot for himself. Frittelli didn’t falter. He made 4 at the par-5 17th, one of the few holes Henley failed to birdie in his march to the green. Ultimately, the win was vindication, security, and an unexpected trip to Royal Portrush for this week’s Open Championship. Breathe easy, Dylan.

@JDCLASSIC     @PGATOUR     @TPCDeereRun     @Dylan_Frittelli

Sei Young Kim takes 2nd win of LPGA season at Marathon Classic

Sei Young Kim offered an LPGA marketing tutorial on how to pronounce her name (So Young!) a season or two ago. On Sunday, the 26-year old Korean golfer earned her 9th LPGA title by 2 strokes, over Lexi Thompson of the USA. Kim made 7 birdies over her first 15 holes, establishing a healthy lead as the tournament headed for home. Bogey at the 16th reduced her margin of victory to 2, but also served to secure trivia on the week: Kim’s scorecard’s were 64, 65, 66 and 67. A hand that would do some damage at the card table, also worked well at the Toledo LPGA stop. Thompson nor anyone else ever threatened the front-runner on day four. Thompson had too many bogies (2) and not enough birdies (also 2) on the outward nine, to mount an early challenge. 3 more birdies plus 1 additional bogey through the 16th, brought her even with Stacy Lewis for 2nd spot. Thompson closed fiercely, with birdie at 17 and eagle at the last. Her torrid finish made the final score appear closer than actuality. In truth, it was the Sei Young show all day long, a fitting tribute to a stellar performance.

@MarathonLPGA     @LPGA     @HMGCgrounds     @SY_KIM_lpga

Colorado Championship earns Ledesma a ticket to the show in 2019-2020

Argentina’s Nelson Ledesma had won on this level before. He triumphed at the LECOM in 2019, but that victory was not enough to propel him to the PGA Tour. In a campaign highlighted by higher, more consistent finishes, Ledesma’s victory on Sunday was enough to earn him a card on the golf world’s grandest dance stage. The walk home wasn’t easy on Sunday. Ledesma dueled with fellow southern-hemisphere golfer Brett Coletta the entire round. Ledesma went -1 on each of his 9s, but they could have differed more. On the outward half, the Platense was all over the place: 4 birdies, 1 bogey, 1 double. On the inward half, all pars until the last. Coletta might look back on Sunday and wonder, what went wrong on the par 5 holes. He doubled the first, bogeyed the 5th, and failed to birdie the 13th and 15th. A late birdie at 17 tied him with Ledesma, setting the stage for the 20-feet birdie putt that would settle the matter and send the champion to new heights.

@TPCColorado     @KornFerryTour     @TPCColoradoChampionship     @nelsonledesmaok

Senior Players Championship is Goosen’s 1st on senior circuit

There was a time, in the early 2000s, when a lead in Goosen’s hands was nearly as secure as a Tiger one. Then came the US Open of 2005, when his final-round lead simply went far, far away. Since those days, family, injuries and new challengers brought him back to the pack. Goosen won 4 more events on the European tour, never again on the US side of the water, until Sunday. Having followed Friday’s 62 with a Saturday 75, the South African found himself in 2nd spot, behind the 2019 story of the year, Scott Parel. This time, it was Goosen who hung on and the leader, that faltered.

Parel came out of the gate limping. He was plus-two through 14 holes in round four. Needing to make something happen to put pressure on his playing partner, Parel birdied the 14th and 17th holes. Unfortunately for him, sandwiched in between were another bogey and a double. He fell to a tie for 4th spot, 4 behind Goosen. In other groupings, Tim Petrovic and Jay Haas were making noise. Each closed to within 2 of Goosen, but neither had the firepower to gain any more ground. The pair tied for 2nd at 4-under par. As for Goosen, it was anything but steady or consistent. He had an eagle and 4 birdies on the day, including chirps at the final two holes, to seal the deal. He also had 2 bogies, along with a double at the 11th. It seems that excitement and thrills are part of the new normal for the formerly-unwavering champion. As long as the recipe results in victories, he’ll certainly cook something up.

@ChampionsTour     @SeniorPlayers     @BridgestoneGolf    

 

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